3 Things To Remember When A Date Night’s Not Possible

man and woman smiling at eat other and eating a candlelit pizza dinner

This article originally appeared on iMOM.com and reflects their mission and beliefs.

I sat around the table at Chili’s and laughed with my girlfriends over chips and salsa and two-for-one glasses of wine. The conversation had shifted to date nights, and as the waiter brought our second round, one friend piped up and said, “My husband and I didn’t have a date night for four years.” I was so surprised to hear this because I’ve always perceived their marriage as solid, and they seem to be so connected. I thought one of the requirements for a marriage like that was a regular date night.

She said her first baby was colicky. Her second, who arrived a year later, was an easy baby, but the toddler was a handful. Prepping a sitter for all of his antics caused more stress for them than they wanted to manage. They were picking their battles and date night lost. Maybe you’re on a tight budget, you have a child with special needs, or you and your husband work opposite shifts, and date nights aren’t possible or happen very infrequently. Don’t worry. Remember these 3 things.

1. A date night is not a key ingredient in a healthy marriage.

We’ve written a lot over the years about the importance of date nights, and there’s no denying they can add richness to your marriage—but they are not a requirement. When my friend mentioned her four-year date hiatus, someone at the table said, “So when did you guys connect?” She said one night, they grabbed the baby monitor, sat in the car in the driveway, and listened to their wedding mix CD (Remember when that was a thing?).

Consider what makes a marriage work: communication, attentiveness, a shared faith, mutual respect, cooperation. Date nights are nice, but not having a date night is not the same thing as not communicating or cooperating.

2. The concept of a “date night” is new and privileged.

I think my childhood babysitter’s name was Tonya. I say “I think” because my parents didn’t go out without my sister and me very often. It wasn’t part of their budget or their routine. In fact, Americans didn’t eat at restaurants nearly as much then as we do now. Think back over the decades. Can you imagine parents in the 1940s or ‘50s leaving their kids a few times a month? Marriages have been happy and healthy for centuries without regular date nights.

3. But you do need to be more intentional.

My friend said at times, it felt like she and her husband were hunkered down in a storm together. They knew they weren’t going anywhere, so they had to make do with what they had. She said, “The little touches that feel romantic on a date night, like holding hands in the car or complimenting the other person on their appearance—you don’t need to be on a date to do that.”

She said occasionally they’d turn off the TV and light a candle after the kids went to bed. Her husband would bring her a glass of wine. It created a mood that helped them both relax and put the concerns of the day aside, and that’s ultimately the goal of a date. If you know dates aren’t going to be part of your routine for a while, don’t put your marriage on autopilot. Talk to your husband about how you both can be intentional about expressing love and showing attention in other ways.

What are some ways to mimic the special feeling of a date night when date night isn’t possible?

This article originally appeared on iMOM.com and reflects their mission and beliefs.

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